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Los Angeles Immigration Law Blog

Trump shutdown allows thousands of immigrants to stay in US

President Trump unilaterally shut down the federal government for 35 days to demonstrate his displeasure with the refusal of Congressional Democrats to provide funding for the border wall that was the centerpiece of his election campaign. Now that the shutdown is over, impartial experts looking at court records made an ironic discovery: the President's fit of pique allowed more than 80,000 undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

Removal hearings are frequently scheduled months or even years in advance. The current backlog of cases requiring a hearing is over 800,000. When the system becomes plugged by an event, such as the government shutdown, the canceled hearings cannot simply be rescheduled for a week or two after the shutdown ends. Many cases must be rescheduled for months, if not years, in the future. The immigrants whose cases were necessarily rescheduled have, in effect, been allowed to remain in the country without any documentation for months or years.

Understanding immigration removal

One of the most misused and misunderstood immigration terms is deportation. Most immigrants in the United States understand that the term refers to the compulsory removal from the United States of a person who has entered and remains in the country without legal status. When the immigration laws were revised in the 1980s, the term deportation was deleted from the law and was replaced by the word removal. Nevertheless, the two words retain the same meaning: the removal from the United States of a person who has no legal right to enter or remain in the country.

A person may be removed from the United States if they have not entered the country legally, are present in the United States in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, violated nonimmigrant state or terminated a conditional or permanent residence. Other grounds for removal include conviction of certain criminal offenses or failure to register relating to entry into the United States.

Government shutdown brings immigration process to near-halt

President Trump's enthusiasm for a border wall has drawn much attention to Washington, D.C., but along the border itself, other issues also call for attention. The Border Patrol and other agencies that monitor immigration are struggling with outdated facilities that cannot handle the increase in families wishing to enter the U.S. The immigration court system is so clogged with applications that people are waiting years for decisions to resolve their cases.

The current congressional debate seems to concentrate on raw numbers and ignores the reality faced by immigrant families in Southern California and elsewhere. Seldom mentioned is the fact that the backlog in immigration court has more than doubled to 1.1 million cases awaiting decisions. More families and children traveling alone now elect to surrender to border patrol officials and seek asylum, instead of following the much older pattern of entering the country by any means possible.

Supreme Court blocks Trump's asylum ban

President Trump issued an executive order that prevented people from seeking political asylum in this country unless they entered through a port of entry. A district court refused to enforce this rule, which led the Trump administration to appeal the district court's ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the district court, so the government brought the case before the Supreme Court and asked the Supreme Court to reverse the trial court. The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, refused the request.

This case centered on the statute that defines the procedures by which immigrants can request political asylum. The statute allows an application for asylum to be filed by any alien who is physically present in the United States "whether or not [the applicant is] at a designated port of arrival." The president's order contradicted the plain language of the statute by requiring all asylum seekers to have entered through a lawful port of entry. Currently, many people who have entered the country at places other than ports of entry are seeking asylum. Presumably, their applications for asylum will now be processed in due course.

You may be eligible to bring your fiancé to the country

Building a long-distance relationship with your fiancé can be hard, especially if he or she holds foreign citizenship. Travelling internationally to see each other can quickly become expensive. Even with the availability of video calls and social media, a contrasting time difference can make your communication difficult to maintain.

While you may be eager to get married one day and put an end to the distance, you may also want to consider bringing your fiancé over to the United States on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, also known as the fiancé visa. Having the U.S. government recognize your engagement to each other will allow your fiancé to enter the country and marry you here. Consider the following requirements to determine your eligibility:

Understanding H-1B visas

Many companies in Southern California have a need for highly educated and skilled personnel. In many occasions, companies look overseas when the domestic supply of such individuals runs low. Obtaining a Green Card, which is a prelude to immigration to the United States, can take more time than either the company or the applicant can spend. Therefore, the government has created a separate, non-immigration type of visa to accommodate the temporary residence of a highly trained or key employee from another country.

These visas are known as H-1B visas, and they can be granted only to individuals who are qualified for one of the following types of jobs:

  • Jobs that have a minimum entry requirement of a bachelor's degree or equivalent,
  • Jobs that have a degree requirement that is common to the industry,
  • Jobs that normally require a degree according to the employer's hiring standards, or
  • Jobs that have specific duties that are so specialized or complex that requisite knowledge to perform the duties of the position are equivalent to attainment of a bachelor's degree

Continue building a life with your spouse

Life just doesn’t feel right when loved ones live far away. It’s equally disheartening when threats against your family disrupt everything else. If you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder, there is hope for a brighter future. A spousal visa could be the answer to this complex problem.

Trump rule to limit access to asylum seekers blocked by judge

President Trump's continuing effort to use administrative declarations to raise the barriers to lawful admission into the United States hit another roadblock in San Francisco on November 18. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevented enforcement of the president's declaration that persons seeking asylum could not enter the United States except through lawful ports of entry.

The dispute began on November 9 when President Trump signed a proclamation that banned migrants from applying for asylum if they failed to make the request at a legal checkpoint. The president said that national security required the limitation, but he did so without presenting any supporting evidence. The rule was allowed to become effective even though it had not been published in the Federal Register or been subjected to public review and comment.

Long periods of detention not always related to criminal record

The Trump administration seems to enjoy portraying immigrants as habitual criminals who deserve nothing better than indefinite incarceration. Unfortunately, a review of the records pertaining to immigrants who have been held in extended detention shows that many -- if not most -- of these persons have either committed no crimes or have served whatever sentence was imposed upon them by a state criminal court. Nevertheless, they were still held in immigration detention.

One immigrant was accused of and convicted of a second-degree robbery in San Diego in 2003. He served a two-year prison sentence for that crime and was then transferred to an Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in southern California. He applied for asylum, but almost 10 years passed before he was released from immigration detention. Two detainees held in a Virginia detention center have no crimes on their records, but they have been held in detention since 2007.

American citizen recovers $55,000 in wrongful deportation suit

American citizens should be free of any worry about being deported, but apparently, American citizenship is not a complete barrier against ill-advised and illegal deportation proceedings. A resident of San Bernardino who is an American citizen was illegally detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and repeatedly threatened with deportation, even after she insisted on several occasions that she was an American citizen.

The incident began when the woman visited the Ontario Police Department to reclaim her lawfully registered pistol after it had been taken from her car following a traffic accident. The woman was arrested and incarcerated. ICE sent the Sheriff's Office an immigration detainer asking that it hold the woman. After her release, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on her behalf against ICE, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office and the state of California.

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